Get Paid to Play With Legos? This Former College Student Found a Way

When Maxx Davidson was 4 years old, he wanted to grow up to build things. He ultimately achieved that goal, although the path that took him there was something even he couldn’t dream up.

Now 23, Davidson is the latest to earn the title of Lego Master Model Builder — and he’s one of only 22 people in the world who have the right to put that on their resume.

So, how does someone not only land a literal dream job but one as prestigious as Master Model Builder? With a few months of experience in his new gig under his belt, Davidson filled us in.

The Student Becomes the Master (Model Builder)

In spring 2018, while Davidson was pursuing a life-sciences education degree at the University of Akron in Ohio, he stumbled on a shared Facebook article that would change his career path.

A new Legoland Discovery Center was preparing to open in Columbus, Ohio, and they were on the hunt for the park’s official Master Model Builder.

Although Davidson had already left his 4-year-old self’s dream job behind to pursue “something more reasonable,” his curiosity was piqued. Here was a real-life opportunity, something he didn’t realize existed. Naturally, he applied along with thousands of others.

Davidson and over 70 other contestants from across the country were invited to Brick Factor, a two-day, multiround competition where he worked to outbuild the best of the best to earn the job.

A man builds a LEGO model during a contest.

“I know Brick Factor used a lot of the more basic bricks. They didn’t have any specialty stuff,” he says. “I got out a lot of my old Lego bricks and practiced putting those together in different geometric shapes to see if I could get something fluid from those blocky structures.”

Not only did he go back to his Lego roots to practice for the competition, contestants were told about the first round animal theme beforehand. So, he went into the contest with a bees-in-a-honeycomb model idea… which he abandoned at the last minute for a saltwater environment instead.

Despite his eleventh hour changeup, Davidson beat the country’s top builders and became the next Master Model Builder.

From the time he landed the job in May to the opening of Legoland Discovery Center Columbus in late September, he has been training with fellow Master Model Builders and creating models for the grand opening.

“It was completely surreal,” he says. “When it finally kind of clicked for me that this was actually a job that I had, it just felt so good coming into work every day.”

While the official salary wasn’t disclosed, a Glassdoor listing from 2011 reports the base pay as $ 15 to $ 16 per hour. And what exactly does the day-to-day work of a Master Model Builder entail? A whole lot more than building awe-inspiring Lego creations.

“I run the creative workshop… We have a different monthly model building every month, and I get to take the kids step by step through how to do that,” says Davidson.

The Discovery Center also offers Lego Education — weekly programs that support the schools’ core curriculum. Davidson spends that time teaching children about science, technology, engineering and math concepts that match up with what they’re currently learning in school.

“So, part of the job is definitely the building, but another part is being able to interact with the guests and make sure everyone has a great experience,” he says. “There’s a lot of different facets, and they balance each other really nicely week to week.”

What It Takes to Land a Dream Job

Snagging this opportunity of a lifetime meant Davidson had to completely pivot from his previous plan, which included leaving the University of Akron behind and moving to Columbus full time.

A dramatic career change can seem like a disorienting move for some, but Davidson says the work he was doing as a student applies to his current gig. Plus, he stresses that just because you leave formal education for a job, it doesn’t mean you stop learning. You continue your education — just in a different format.

He also thinks his previous experiences, especially his interest in education, gave him an edge in the competition. Aside from stellar Lego brick-building skills, the judges were looking for someone who was comfortable interacting with a crowd, children in particular.

For the final round of Brick Factor, instead of just constructing a model on his own, he brought kids from the audience on stage with him to build small pieces of the final product — a record player with a moving needle.

Going that extra mile elevated him above the other applicants. And while this example may seem specific to this particular gig, the overarching concept should be used by applicants pursuing a job in any field: Know your strengths, and don’t be scared to try something outside the norm to showcase how well you fit a position.

Davidson also has a bit of personal advice when it comes to landing a dream job:

“The idea of a dream job is something that doesn’t come around very often, but what you can do is pursue a passion,” he says. “Then in the off chance that you do get an opportunity, you’re prepared.”

He believes that if you have a passion — any passion — and work toward it, you’ll acquire universal skills that will push you forward into a dream position. It’s a sort of “If you build it, it will come” mentality. (Pun 100% intended.)

And if your passion happens to be Lego model building, you may be in luck. A new Legoland Discovery Center is scheduled to open in 2019 in San Antonio, which means Lego is on the hunt for Master Model Builder No. 23. Time to start strategizing your models and brushing up on your public speaking skills.

Davidson is living proof that our dream jobs, even the ones from childhood, aren’t out of reach. Just play to your strengths and always pursue new learning experiences — and keep an eye out for life-changing Facebook articles.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. When she was little, her dream job was a flight attendant. Now, she white-knuckles her way through takeoffs and landings, so it’s probably for the best that she chose a different career.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Racist Who Cyber-Terrorized Black Student Gets Light Penalty

Sitting down with a therapist for “anti-hate training” was part of the gift-wrapped slap on the wrist that a racist internet troll was given for terrorizing a Black college student through a neo-Nazi website.


Evan James McCarty settled a lawsuit on Tuesday that Taylor Dumpson filed over an internet campaign to racially harass her after she became the first Black woman to serve as American University’s student government president in 2017, the Associated Press reported.

The agreement also required McCarty to apologize, do community service and publicly renounce white supremacy.

That’ll teach him, right?

“At the end of the day, our settlement should send a strong message to white supremacists and neo-Nazis all across the country that they will be held accountable for their conduct,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented Dumpson.

Dumpson’s nightmare began when someone hung bananas marked with the letters “AKA,” a reference to the historically Black college sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, from nooses on the university’s campus. The school’s president noted in a statement that the incident occurred after Dumpson, an AKA member, was sworn in as American’s student government president.

The Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin, who was also a defendant in the lawsuit, directed his readers to cyberbully Dumpson, the lawsuit alleged. In an article he posted about the incident, Anglin added links to Dumpson’s Facebook page and the American University Student Government’s Twitter page.

In at least one instance, McCarty took to Twitter and posted a picture of bananas with the caption, “Ready the troops,” replying to a message that revealed Dumpson’s whereabouts. He posted that and other tweets anonymously under the pseudonym Byron de la Vandal, which Dumpson’s legal team believed was a reference to Byron De La Beckwith, the Klansman who killed civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963.

It’s hard to see how therapy sessions could bring about a real change in a committed white supremacist. How is a transformation possible when programs to make people—who are not ardent racists—aware of their unconscious racism seldom work?

American companies spend an estimated $ 8 billion a year on anti-bias training, according to TIME. Yet there’s clear evidence that the efforts to change bias attitudes, which are often ingrained from childhood, is no easy task. A study of 829 companies over 31 years found that diversity training had “no positive effects in the average workplace,” especially when it’s mandatory.

Dumpson said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder over her ordeal. The 22-year-old law school student believes the settlement “could raise awareness of issues of racial justice, while also providing for educational benefits.”


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5 Pricy Services You Can Get for Cheap if You Let a Student Practice on You

One of the best experiences I had when I was pregnant with my first son nine years ago was a  free ultrasound at a sonography school.

In a room with other pregnant volunteers and our partners, ultrasound tech students took turns examining our various-sized baby bumps, learning what to look for in fetal ultrasounds under the guidance of vetted professionals.

What that meant for me was that rather than the short-and-sweet ultrasounds I’d had at my OB’s office, I got to watch my little love squirm, kick and do all the other fetus things for an entire hour. Plus, they sent me home with a bunch of sonogram photos to get my baby book started — all for exactly zero dollars.

Sonography schools always need models, so if you’re interested in an extended sneak preview of your baby-to-be, you can find a sonography school near you.

But even if you aren’t pregnant, other types of services are available at fractions of the normal costs. That’s because these services are performed by students nearing graduation. They need your trust and, more importantly, your physical body before they can get licensed.

Save Big on Beauty Treatments

You can get deeply discounted beauty services at cosmetology schools — from haircuts and color to manis and pedis, and even waxing, facials or just getting your makeup done. All you have to do is let someone practice on you. Fellas, you can get it on this, too, with facial grooming options, shaves and even “guy lights.”

I know, I know — it’s a little risky letting a student shape your eyebrows. But you’re actually in good hands.

In my experience, cosmetology students take their time and make sure you’re happy with what they’re doing. Also, there are established stylists walking around to make sure everything is being done properly.

Sample prices include haircut and style services that start at $ 12, color starting around $ 40 and manicures for $ 15.

You can find local cosmetology schools in your area. In addition to local options, schools like Aveda and Paul Mitchell have locations all over the United States.

Find an Aveda near you, and check out its super affordable prices.

Or search for Paul Mitchell Schools locations — here is its list of its services and prices.

Both price lists are for specific locations, but the costs are comparable across the nation.

Pay Less for Massages

Massage therapy is another profession that requires practice on real-life bodies. Yay! We have those!

Most schools have fees, but they’re about half what you would normally pay for a massage.  

At Cortiva Institute, which has 30 U.S. locations, an hourlong massage of any kind is only $ 30, and 90 minutes is $ 45.

Since the average cost for a massage is about $ 60 per hour, the student massage route is a win-win for all involved. Judging from the glowing Facebook reviews of the Alpha School of Massage in Jacksonville, Florida, student massage therapists are doing some pretty amazing work.

To find massage schools near you, start by checking out the American Massage Therapy Association’s website.

Eat Fancy Food at Budget Prices

Grab a cheap gourmet meal at a local culinary school.

At The Tutored Chef, a restaurant run by students at the Art Institute of Tampa, all appetizers are only $ 3. The salads are $ 4, and sandwiches and lunch entrees are all a budget-friendly $ 6.

And while you may say, “Yeah, but I can get McDonald’s for cheaper than that,” I counter with this: Can you get marinated pork tenderloin, pickled vegetables, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, a French baguette (which you just know is made from scratch) and Parmesan garlic herb fries at a regular restaurant for only $ 6?

While this is just one student-run restaurant at one culinary school, the gist is the same for all of them: decadent, handcrafted foods at equally delectable prices.

Important to note: These offerings are generally only available at certain times on certain days during the week, so check ahead of time.

Find your local culinary schools for deals near you.  

Get Deals at the Dentist Office

If you don’t have dental insurance (and maybe even if you do), the cost of oral care is no joke. Going to a dental school is a great way to keep up with your oral hygiene, help a future doc out and not go broke.

I went to one through the University of Florida to get my long-overdue wisdom tooth extraction. Both the hygienist and the dentist were very nice and patient, which I appreciated, because getting your wisdom teeth out is a little freaky. I had no issues afterward and had the best experience one could expect.

Dental schools are open to anyone, but pricing is different by location and is determined your personal mouth situation. Dentistry schools offer services for all dental care needs, including for kids, emergency situations, specialized care or just preventative care.

Find local dentistry schools in your area to see what your options are.

It’s that easy to help a student hone their craft, while you get pampered for a portion of the usual cost. Everybody wins!

Amy Beeman is a writer and researcher in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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